Comparison: Allegory of the Cave and the Myth of the Metals

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Allegory to Myth
In the Republic, Plato uses reason to model the ultimate form of civilization where everyone achieves his/her human potential. This should not be confused with individual equality, for Plato sees a harmonious and virtuous community where citizens are under a hierarchy and working together for the greater good of the state. The question, however, remains: How does one achieve Plato’s ideal state when there is evil and deception in the world? In answering this question, Plato puts forth two arguments: an allegory to describe the complexities and necessities of reality, and a royal lie to carry out the ideal form of civilization. In this paper, I argue Plato’s Allegory of the Cave justifies the need for a royal lie found in the Myth of the Metals, for the royal lie serves as an instrument towards achieving the ultimate polis. I examine this claim by describing and analyzing both the Allegory of the Cave and the Myth of the Metals, as well as depicting the philosopher’s challenges and the royals lie’s instrumental purpose.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave starts in a world where men are strapped to the hard floor in a sitting position. The reader is told “[t]hey’ve been there since childhood, fixed in the same place, with their necks and legs fettered, able to see only in front of them.” This deprivation of movement does not allow the cave dwellers to turn their heads, thus giving them the inability to grasp what exists around them. The only things the dwellers can see are the images of shadows projected by inanimate objects behind their backs. Since shadows are all they observe, shadows are all they know, symbolizing the realm of deception in which they live in. In order to correct this delusion, a philosopher must step into the cave and rule over the cave dwellers, liberating them of all evils. Accordingly, in the next stage of the allegory, Plato introduces the development of the philosopher by liberating one of the cavemen to the outside light....
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